Panama ready to reverse run of big game losses against Mexico

March 21 – The Mexico vs Panama semi-final at the AT&T Stadium tonight in Arlington, Texas, is third time in closing rounds of Concacaf competitions that these two have met in the past 10 months.

Last June Mexico beat Panama to take third place in the 2022/23 edition of the Nations League in Las Vegas, before the two sides met again at the SoFi Stadium in LA in July in the Gold Cup final. Mexico won both encounters.

Panama have been improving over the past three seasons to establish themselves ahead of Costa Rica as the leading Central American national team, but they need to move up another gear if they are to start winning trophies.

In Jose Fajardo they have a striker in form after scoring in each leg against Costa Rica, giving him three goals in the 2023-24 CNL. But the strength is in their midfield with the MLS pair of Houston Dynamo’s Adalberto Carrasquilla (the 2023 Gold Cup Best Player Award winner) and Nashville’s Anbal Godoy who have become the heartbeat of Panama’s midfield under Thomas Christiansen.

Panama’s All-time Nations League record

 

Mexico have more penetration up front but their chances to goals ratio should be better. PSV’s Hirving Lozano will lead their line while Feyenoord’s Santiago Gimenez could prove to be Mexico’s game changer. Gimenez has scored 36 goals in 57 games for his club and came off the bench to score the winning goal against Panama in the 2023 Gold Cup Final.

Mexico use the width of the pitch well with Uriel Antuna and Orbelin Pineda in particular, but need to find consistency within the six-yard box.

The question is whether coach Jaime Lozano will give Gimenez his first start for Mexico, having preferred to keep his selections to a more experienced squad.

Mexico’s All-time Nations League record

His midfield, which will be led by West Ham’s Edson Alvarez, has four players with more than 40 caps.

Mexico start as favourites and Christiansen likes it like. Lozano, as ever under the pressure of the Mexican fans and media, has less room to breathe easily.

Mexico have won 12 and drawn two of the last 14 fixtures between these two nations.

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